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EXPLAINED: How parent representative elections work at French schools

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How parent representative elections work at French schools
Parents dropping their children off at school. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

If your children are in French schools you will be invited to vote in an election this autumn - here's what you need to know.

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Every year schools, collèges and lycées across France elect parent representatives to ensure the smooth running of individual establishments.

Electronic voting will be possible for the first time in the 2023 elections, which take place at schools nationwide on October 13th and 14th.

Parents are elected on to school councils and boards of governors to ensure representation of parents’ views. The intention is to “establish a real link between families and the school, and build a relationship of trust”.

READ ALSO What to expect if your child is starting school in France

Parents tend to have less contact with schools in France then they do in other countries - in France the philosophy is that teachers teach and parents parent and the roles are quite separate - so the parent representatives forms an official link between home and school.

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Elections for parent representative on school, collège and lycée boards before the end of the seventh week of the school year. This year, that’s Friday, October 13th or Saturday, October 14th - earlier in Mayotte and La Réunion, because of their school calendars.

Who can become a parent representative?

To become a parent representative, you must :

  • Have parental authority over a child enrolled in the school where the elections are being held;
  • Be registered on an electoral list (which rules out non-EU citizens, since they are not permitted to vote in France)
  • Once elected, parent representatives can be present at the various school council meetings and are in contact with the members of the educational community.

The electoral list must be sent to the elections office or to the school principal at least 10 days before the elections.

Who can vote?

  • Anyone who has parental authority over a child at school is entitled to vote for a parental representative. French or EU nationality is not required. 
  • Each parent is entitled to a single vote, regardless of the number of children enrolled at the same school.
  • No proxy votes are allowed, and all votes are secret. You can vote at the school on the day of the vote, or by sending in your ballot paper by post before the closing date. This year, electronic voting will be available. Your child’s school will have more detailed information on how this will work.

The elections take place during France’s national School Democracy Week, which raises awareness about the importance of elections.

As well as elections for parents' representatives on the school council and the board of directors, as well as elections for the council of delegates for student life - which take place from October 9th to October 14th.

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